Azorella Cushion Plants and Aridity are Important Drivers of Soil Microbial Communities in Andean Ecosystems

Rodriguez-Echeverria, Susana; Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Morillo, Jose A.; Gaxiola, Aurora; Manzano, Marlene; Marquet, Pablo A.; Gonzalez, Leticia; Cavieres, Lohengrin A.; Pugnaire, Francisco I.; Armas, Cristina

Abstract

Cushion plants are specialized keystone species of alpine environments that can have a positive effect on ecosystem structure and function. However, we know relatively little about how cushion plants regulate the diversity and composition of soil microbial communities, major drivers of soil processes and ecosystem functioning. Identifying what factors drive the diversity and composition of soil microbial communities in high-elevation ecosystems is also fundamental to predict how global changes will affect their conservation and the services and functions they provide. Thus, we sampled four sites along the southern Andes following the vegetation belt of Azorella cushion species. The field sites spread along a latitudinal gradient and had contrasting levels of aridity, UV-B radiation, mean temperature and soil properties. Overall, Azorella, as well as aridity and UV-B radiation, were the major drivers of the distribution, composition and diversity of soil microbial communities in the studied ecosystems of the Chilean Andes. UV-B radiation affected particularly soil fungi, while soil properties such as pH, total C and N content, essential predictors of microbial diversity globally, had a much lower effect on the composition of soil microbial communities. Understanding the factors driving the structure and composition of microbial communities, particularly the role of cushion plants and the feedbacks between plant, climate and soil is of uttermost importance for the preservation of the functionality of high-elevation ecosystems threatened by climate change.

Más información

Título según WOS: ID WOS:000629458200001 Not found in local WOS DB
Título de la Revista: ECOSYSTEMS
Editorial: Springer
Fecha de publicación: 2021
DOI:

10.1007/s10021-021-00603-1

Notas: ISI